Ford updated its full-sized cars for 1969, stretching the wheelbase a couple of inches and adding a completely new snout. Production of this generation of big Fords continued through 1978, with well over a half-million sold just for 1969, so these cars were everywhere on American roads well into the 1990s. Here’s one of the sportiest models you could buy in that first year, found in a Colorado self-service car graveyard last month.
To this day, the 1969-1978 full-sized Ford is one of the most commonplace pre-1980s Detroit vehicles you’ll find in the big self-service wrecking yards (particularly those in not-so-rusty parts of the continent).
In 1969, the entry-level full-sized Ford was the lowly Custom series, with the Custom 500 a slightly plusher variant. Above that, you had the Galaxie and Galaxie 500/ XL, and then the LTD lorded over all the rest from its perch at the top of the big-Ford Pyramid.
Then there were all Mercury-badged siblings ( the Monterey and Marquis). The most iconic station wagons of 1970s America belonged to this family as well, with countless 1969-1978 Ranch Wagons, Country Squires, Country Sedans, and Colony Parks hauling families around the interstates.
The door tag tells us that this car was built on February 7, 1969, at the Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul, Minnesota, just across the Mississippi from where I lived at the time. The #1 song in America that day was the great Tommy James and the Shondells tune, Crimson & Clover. The exterior paint is Lime Metallic and the interior trim is gold. The District Sales Office is, of course, Denver; we can assume this car spent most or all of its life in the Centennial State.
While the Custom and Galaxie had 240-cubic-inch (3.9-liter) straight-sixes as base engines (hardly any non-fleet buyers got those engines in real life), every 1969 LTD ever sold had V8 power as standard equipment. Those engines ranged from a 302 ( 5.0-liter) Windsor small-block all the way up to a 429 (7.0-liter) big-block; this car started life with a two-barrel 351 Windsor small-block rated at 250 horsepower, and that’s what it still appears to have.
Not much later on, Ford made two other (unrelated) V8 engines also called the 351, which causes much annoyance among parts buyers and sellers to this day.
In addition to big LTD badges on every possible surface, inside and out, the 1969 LTD got these hide-away headlights. They looked cool but always caused reliability headaches later on.
The interior is typical 1960s-Detroit cheap-luxury vinyl and plastic, and would have provided a lot of comfort for the price.
What was that price? The MSRP for a 1969 LTD 2-door hardtop was $3,264 (about $27,165 in inflation-adjusted 2022 dollars), and this car has plenty of options that would have boosted the out-the-door amount quite a bit higher. The cheapest possible 1969 Ford Custom Six Series was the two-door post sedan with 240 engine and three-on-the-tree manual transmission, at $2,632 ($21,905 now).
Believe it or not, a “Synchro-Smooth” three-on-the-tree was base equipment in the ’69 LTD, and let us know if you ever see one so equipped. This car has the “SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic” three-speed automatic, naturally.
You paid extra for air conditioning in the 1969 LTD; if you wanted that sort of thing at no extra cost back then, you had to choose a more prestigious marque.
There’s no serious rust, but the nuked interior and battered sheet metal meant that this car really wasn’t a rational choice for a serious restoration project. A Mustang or a Torino fastback, sure, but not a small-block LTD coupe.
It’s getting difficult to find junkyard cars in Denver that don’t have stickers from some cannabis-related business on the dash, these days. Sometimes I find them on steering wheels and even windshields.
If we were to tell you this 1969 luxury car cost more than five thousand dollars, you’d probably believe it.
The Galaxie 500 came with some nice stuff that year, but it was no LTD.
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[Images by the author]
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